Report says Pa. lost 4,000 farms over 5 years

A new federal report claims Pennsylvania lost nearly 4,000 farms over a five-year period along with a 100,000 total farm acreage decline.The initial figures in the Census of Agriculture released in late February show just over 59,000 farms in 2012, land that comprised 7.7 million acres.The total annual market value of the state's agriculture products totaled roughly $7.4 billion with the average farm producing nearly $124,000 in products every year.While most Pennsylvania farms range between 10 and 500 acres in size, approximately 650 are at least 1,000 acres.The average farm size is 130 acres, according to published reports.The survey says nearly half of the state's 59,302 farm operators have another primary occupation outside of agriculture.According to Ernest Mattiuz Jr. of Kersey, who was elected to the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau's board of directors in late 2013, the figures reported reflect only returned census forms that the United States Department of Agriculture received from farmers."The report does not tell us what those numbers mean or provide information as to why those numbers have changed," Mattiuz said.